Pradeep Dalal (ICP-Bard MFA alum + co-chair, photography program, Bard MFA ) in group show “I need my memories. They are my documents.” sepiaEYE

I would love to see the ICP-Bard MFA cohort at the walk through I’m giving of the group show, “I need my memories. They are my documents.”,  this Saturday, Oct 30th at 2 pm.

The exhibition has photo based works, drawing and videos of five non-western artists who work with existing material (repository) in unique ways. Here is a link to Pradeep Dalal‘s interview published by ICP

More information about the exhibition here

The Bawa Letters (1982), 2005

The Bawa Letters (1982), 2005

How We Do Both: Art and Motherhood

Announcing the publication of How We Do Both: Art and Motherhood distributed by Secretary Press​.​

How We Do Both: Art & MotherhoodA diverse collection of honest responses from contemporary artists who have walked—and are still walking—the tenuous tight rope of motherhood and making art (not necessarily in that order).

Contributors: Marina Berio, Katharina Bosse, Susan Bright, Moyra Davey, Joanne Leonard, Joelle Jensen, Justine Kurland, Wangechi Mutu, Rachelle Mozman, Penelope Umbrico, Eti Wade and Deborah Willis.​

Edited by Michi Jigarjian and Qiana Mestrich​

Book on sale September 28-30, 2012 at the ICP-Bard MFA booth at the NY Art Book Fair happening at PS1 MOMA in NYC.

Interview with Jorge Alberto Perez by Qiana Mestrich

QM:  Previously you told me you were given advice to think of the MFA solo thesis show as just another studio visit.  Have you applied this philosophy in preparing for your show, Visions and Revisions?

JP:  Yes, Josh Lutz, my thesis advisor once told me that in order to take some of the pressure off of presenting a completely resolved solo exhibition, one can choose to look at it, not as just another studio visit, a special one to be sure, (where you even take the time to sweep the floor!), but more importantly where there is room for the process to be revealed, for imperfections to linger unashamed.  I really took that advice to heart.  

He went on to say that because of the fact that the show doesn’t take place in a Chelsea gallery there should be some risk-taking.  And that is why I decided to proceed with new work this semester, despite not knowing what it would lead me to as a final presentation.

Your recent work emerges from a large archive of hundreds of cutouts from magazines and other resources.  Describe for us your personal process of selecting and cutting out images. What’s your personal investment in this physical act?

Let me just say that recycling day is difficult for me.  I walk past stacks of magazines and books that people tossed out and I want to search through it all for interesting images.  I do, in fact, collect some material this way.  But most of it comes from second hand stores or printed matter that friends pass on to me for my cannibalistic needs.  I try to look through most things twice before recycling it myself.  In those two passes I chose whatever appeals to me with few filters on.  

It is partly unconscious work, a meditation of sorts.  So many things run through one’s mind, as when driving, that are ghosts in comparison to the task at hand, and yet, they determine how the task unfolds, what direction it will take.  This is just for tearing out pages.  Later I will look through the stacks of pages and decide what to cut, using a similar tactic, partly random, partly aware.  Rarely will I search for a specific shape, color to satisfy a puzzle in process, but it does happen .

I would also like to address the fact that I hunt for images only from printed matter.  I make this distinction because of the investment of resources to make an object that will circulate in the world.  As the internet continues to evolve, the need for printed material wanes and thus what does make it onto the printed page by the market forces tell the story of a culture.  This is a very interesting moment in the history of image-making as we feel the drag of the ebbing tide of certain economies.  The detritus left behind from that tide is what interests me, and how how those representations can become new allegories of an unknowable past through the agency of the artist.

The physical act, the labor I invest in this ostensibly tedious task of collecting, fragmenting and revisioning is of the utmost importance to me.  I take these market-driven images and draw out from them their illogical conclusion, or their essence.  I will let the viewer decide.   

Are there common themes or categories that exist within your archive? Do you have a formal classification system?

JP: The themes are there but I try not to think about them too much in order to allow myself to feel that repetitive instinct afresh each time.  But they are there.  I don’t categorize by any classification system per se, but many small groups of fragments will create temporary constellations, however, that when slipped into a transparent holders becomes its own unit until I undo it and reformulate the parts.  The ‘archive board’ is an informal classification system; one without any hierarchy.

Why was it important for you to show the artist’s process?

For this presentation of the material it made sense to complete the scenario with the source material as an a kind of index.  I wanted to let people experience the fragments more than once, to think about repetition, the copy, the original, the fragment, the vision, the revision… to question how imaged meaning is made.  

How do your cutouts then become larger, composite images like the piece in the MFA group show up now at the ICP school?

I simply photograph them like performers cast in a dance that happens once.  I document it.  They are not scanned.

How much is this new work in dialogue with other artists that employ collage and/or photomontage?

I don’t think I am in direct dialogue with any artist in particular, but there certainly are some whose work speaks to my sensibility.  Wengechi Mutu is high on my list.  I have trouble turning away from her work, it is so arresting.  Hannah Hoch was my introduction to collage.  Her work still thrives today.  I find that so amazing.  Also Jess Collin’s work has provided me with much scopophilia.  

Right now I’m reading Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” in which he discusses the authenticity and reproduction of art thus introducing the idea of the “aura” of a work of art. I know you’re a big fan of his writing. Given that you are working in the reproduction and subsequent reinterpretation of appropriated images, what do you think Benjamin would say about the aura of your work?  

What Benjamin would say about my work?  Madonna!  If only I could channel him for a day!  I do think, however, that my archive of fragments would appeal to him, and that its aura would trump the mechanically reproduced images presented alongside it.  I think the ellipsis of meaning would be instantly clear to him, but so would the infinite mathematically extrapolated combinations that could just as easily follow.  He was a fan of detritus and the kind of aside that sort of material offers, and my work certainly has no shortage of that.  But as for aura, there is a loss of it, I feel, as a work transitions from its initial vision in my hands as fragments to its photo-montaged revision end-product.  

How would you sum up your ICP-Bard MFA experience and what’s next for you?

Each person makes his or her own journey through a rigorous academic program like the ICP/Bard MFA.  For some it is negative and tiresome and filled with a reinforcement of the alienation that feeds the classic model of the anti-social angst-ridden artiste.  For others it is an opportunity for clear-minded reinvention, that only leaping into the great unknown eyes wide open offers.  

For me this has been an amazing personal and professional transition.  I have been humbled and I have shone brighter than I ever hoped I would.  This program has assembled a faculty of artists, writers, scholars of staggering talent and devotion to pedagogy all of whom possess passion for image-based work that they share with unparalleled generosity.  The freedom I felt to explore what lies outside the frame of the image was both liberating and daunting.  I was forced to decide for myself what gets put in front of the apparatus rather than simply use it to capture what parades past its lens.  I find that after all is said and done, I am a more sensitive reader of both text and art works, a better writer, a better public speaker and a better collaborator.  

Next?  I have recently begun a new body of work.

Patricia Silva interviews Sina Haghani

Sina Haghani, Glimmers of Contingency, Installation view, 2012.

Sina Haghani takes a moment after Norouz, the Persian New Year to talk about the creative process, and his MFA Thesis Exhibition, Glimmers of Contingency, which opened on March 15th, 2012.

Patricia: The basis for your thesis show, how long has it been in development?
Sina: It was around the beginning of spring last year that some sketchy ideas started to form in my mind. Initially, I wanted to make work about my own preconceptions and prejudgments about people whom I regularly saw in my daily life but had a very limited social interaction with, if ever: a Chipotle employee; a friend of a friend I hadn’t got to know deeply; or someone at school whose interactions with others were the only source for my perception of her. Later on, these merely first impressions evolved into more complex interpersonal thoughts, which came through shared experience with those people.

Patricia: When you and I met to talk about your work, we also talked about emotional distance between people, and situations of uncertainty. Do you think one is the cause of the other?
Sina: I think inaccessibility leads to uncertainty, which eventually reinforces discomfort in encounters. Because every encounter is kind of fraught, as it presents itself as a kind of demand as well as exposure. At times when uncertainty creates distance, difficult emotional states arise.

Patricia: So, how do you describe your work?
Sina: My work is both a critique and an acceptance of distance that results from uncertainty. I am fascinated by situations in which a variety of possibilities can be triggered in different people. Whether they are real characters or personnas that are perceived by others, these situations allow me to experience this sort of social manifestation of relativism. Our perception of signifiers and how we consciously/unconsciously lead ourselves to conclusions depends, to a great extent, on the specificities of our past experiences. My work looks at contextual influences on people and their subsequent judgments.

Patricia: How did you come up with the statements? What do they add to the emotional terrain you are exploring with the video portraits?
Sina: The statements are the presumptions I have had about people at some points in my life. However, the relation between the audio and the visuals does not conform to reality. That is to say what is being spoken does not necessarily match my speculations about any of the subjects on display. The interplay between the installation and the voice-over narration is supposed to challenge individual’s impressions about each other. The indexical language used in the narrated statements is in service of this function.

Sina Haghani, Glimmers of Contingency, Installation view, 2012.

Patricia: What has surprised you the most about working on these portraits? What does human stillness reveal when captured on video?
Sina: Because they come closer to being still, the tension between a still and a moving image enhances our sense of what we are looking at. I am exploring where doubts come into play: that strange place between our preconception and deeply knowing of someone. I look into this grey area by another intermediate state where a moving image mimics a still one. The stretched time in the video portraits avoids a brief representation of someone.

During the confrontation with the camera, composure breaks down after a while and reveals something about each subject. While the extended eye contact with the subjects is expected to make them easier to read, it might also induce an equivocal impression, which would make it further complicated to form a judgment. This idiosyncrasy of video portraiture is very engaging to me. For example, the sense of embarrassment a subject experiences in comparison to that of another who securely occupies the space in front of my lens creates an ongoing dialogue around power relations, privilege and any other political discussion that stems from social constructions within our culture.

I want my work to function as an interactive platform to expose the individual differences both among my subjects and the audience where they eventually come up with opinions while they are still aware of their own personal typecasts or shadowy prejudices.

Interview with Nandita Raman by Patricia Silva

Nandita Raman is currently finalizing her MFA thesis show, Remembering Absent Meaning, which opens on Thursday, February 2. Born 1980, Varanasi, India, she studied Graphic Communications before directing documentaries and managing the production of international documentaries and ad films.

Nandita Raman, 2011. Left: Untitled, 20″x24″, Inkjet print. Right: International Paper Hammermill Fore® Multi-purpose 99.99% Jam-FreeTM, 20″x24″, Inkjet print.

Patricia: How long have you been developing RAM?
Nandita:  I have been interested in the effects of temporality from the beginning of school in 2010. My interest in memory is an extension of this. I started working on RAM after spring 2011.

Patricia: You’ve outlined a visual structure that clearly begins with the psyche.  It then cycles through accumulation, lucidity, passage, absence.
Nandita: You as the expositor, as a retainer of all your past experiences and conditioning bring these words, these meanings to the images. It’s fascinating for me to see single words, distilled from all the possible interpretations, appropriated to each image. There is a loss that occurs in this process of articulation. I’m interested in that.

Patricia: What fascinates you about that loss?
Nandita: Well, it’s a constant contradiction that becomes a part of our existence. It’s our instinct to articulate, to pick out sentences from the mass of thought. If we don’t do that, we find ourselves in an extremely internal place without much communication with the external world around us. At the same time, when we do articulate, these few words become symbols of the entire thought, they start to represent one thought process, or place of thought.  That’s really fascinating to me.

Patricia: I’m totally infatuated with Thread, Cellophane Warp Around Glass (amorphous solid). I love looking at it. I see it as a contemplation on the fragility of opaqueness. A sort of damaged opaqueness, that is   t e n s e l y   hanging by a thread.
Nandita: In one of his talks, Vikram Seth mentioned his fascination with glass, especially its high viscosity; the property of being difficult to stir. This struck me. Two weeks ago, I realized that glass was an appropriate material to explore the amorphous nature of thought prior to articulation. The nature of glass, neither solid nor liquid, remains one of the unresolved questions in physics.

Patricia: There’s a parallel there, with memory also not being about total clarity or total knowledge.
Nandita: Yes, I agree. It’s true, there’s a parallel. It’s sort of an interim space, which becomes almost like a reminder that memory is not all that there is. That words are not all that there is.  For example, glass—the realization that it’s not solid or liquid, it’s neither. It doesn’t fit in either/or.

Patricia: Do you have photographic rituals?
Nandita: I’m usually not a ritualistic person. I like to change from one day to the next. Mostly, I like to read until some clear thoughts on visuals start to surface. These could be about images that I shot already or things that I would like to shoot.  

Patricia: How do you revive long-term projects? Do you need some distance or total absorption?
Nandita: I think I work slowly. I need time. I need to revisit the same place a few times to know what I want to do with it. So yes, distance and suspensions have helped foster projects.

Patricia: Did something come up while working on RAM that you were just not expecting?
Nandita: Mirrors—that was a big thing that came in. I had a clear idea about how I wanted to use and sequence photographs, but I felt like there was a thread missing somewhere. When I thought of mirrors as part of the installation, it all came together for me.  And it’s so funny. I’ve been working with mirrors since first semester, but not once did I think of using them like this.

Opening Reception: February 2 | Thursday | 6:00–9:00 pm
On View: February 3-4 | Friday–Saturday | 12:00–5:00 pm
ICP-Bard MFA Studios, 24–20 Jackson Avenue, 3rd Floor, Long Island City, New York